Weight Loss Yoga for Beginners

weight loss yoga for beginners

When most think about the art of yoga, it's not to often we tend to think "weight loss". Many of the terms or phrases that come to mind about the physical and mental aspects of the practice are that of mind-body connection, balance, flexibility and controlled movements. When it comes down to it, many individuals, even ones early on in there practice, don't know just how many different styles or paths of yoga there are, from more slow and controlled styles, to faster-paced, more high intensity yoga forms. 

Related Article: What Are Some Of The Best Times To Do Yoga?

The fact is, practicing yoga (when tailored to an individuals needs or desires) included that of weight loss, is entirely feasible. Although yoga is most commonly known for its benefits in remaining limber and creating a clear and focused mind, losing weight is entirely possible to do within the realm of yoga. 

With that said, if your choose a form of yoga more consistent to an aerobic style of workout combined with healthy lifestyle changes (like proper diet, and sleep), the side effect can be a great pathway to weight loss in addition to the mental clarity.

In this article we'll explore some of the different paths of yoga that can be beneficial for weight loss, due to there more aerobic or high intensity physical aspects. 

How to Properly Use Yoga for Weight Loss

We've seen it time and time again, individuals trying to make "weight loss" more complicated then it is. Now, with that said there are individuals with conditions that make loosing weight more difficult, but the premise of loosing weight stays the same. It remains about creating a calorie deficit, explains the CDC. It's about not just burning calories through physical activity, but also reducing the amount of calories you take in through your diet. 

how to use yoga for weight loss

Combining yoga with other aerobic activities such as brisk walks, running, or certain sports, may even help to accelerate results. The important thing here is that if you do decide to embark on using yoga for weight loss, is that you have a plan. This not only involves a plan for the physical part of the journey (like yoga or other exercises) but a meal plan as well. 

Having a plan can also help you reach your goals in a safe manner. An example of this may be doing to high intensity for what your diet entails, leaving you to fatigued to even complete your workouts. There has to be a good balance of diet and exercise (as well as rest periods/sleep). 

The CDC offers a great visual guide as to "how many calories are used in typical exercise" as a good starting point. 

Related Article: Combining Bootcamp and Yoga: Ideas for Yoga Bootcamp

Why we love the fact of incorporating yoga into your weight loss goals is because it can help you develop mindfulness that is very useful in your weight loss journey, while also increasing your strength, helping tone your muscles, and reducing symptoms of stress in your life. 

A Quick Tidbit On Stress-Induced Weight Gain

So we mentioned it above, yoga can and does in fact help to control stress levels, it's actually been studied to have effects on lowering cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone. Not only can stress cause weight gain, it can also make it harder to loose the weight as well, due to higher levels of cortisol, which slows metabolism rate

Stress may also make it harder to eat healthy and stay the course, according to Mayo Clinic. It can be a way of fulfilling an emotional need, also called "stress eating". Yoga may help toward your goal of weight loss by a number of ways, including helping to burn calories, but also as a major intervention when it comes to managing your daily stress. 

types of yoga for weight loss for beginners


Types of Yoga for Weight Loss

There are a few families of yoga styles, including Vinyasa and more gentle paths of yoga. Gentle yoga oftentimes places focus on meditation, slow and longer pose holds, and a connection between body and mind. 

Conversely, Vinyasa is a form of yoga that is designed for vigorous workouts by utilizing fast-paced movements, but also makes that mind-body connection in a different way. Classes of Vinyasa yoga are "known for their fluid, movement-intensive practices."

When trying to use yoga for weight loss, the best route is to practice yoga styles that would equate to having a more aerobic flow. Below you'll find two varieties (Ashtanga & Power yoga) that can be considered Vinyasa yoga, that will aid in your quest to burn calories. Hot yoga (Bikram yoga a type of hot yoga) differs in a few ways, which we'll discuss below.  


1. Hot Yoga

hot yoga or bikram yoga for weight loss

Using hot yoga for weight loss can yield great results. Hot yoga is a vigorous form of yoga that is practiced in a room with elevated temperatures. The extra heat ensures that you are going to sweat and most likely get that heart rate up while doing your poses. 

Bikram is a form of hot yoga in which the temperatures of the room are about 105 degrees C, and consists of 26 poses, held for more lengthy times as the other forms of yoga we'll discuss below. 

Forms of hot yoga can also be good for beginners because many of the poses are held for longer periods of time. Your muscles also become warmed up faster because of the elevated temperature in the room, allowing for better and maybe safer stretching for beginners. However, due to the elevated temperatures, you should also consult with a doctor before performing in a hot yoga studio, as it could lead to heat related illnesses. 

Bikram yoga specifically, has shown in one study to not just help with better flexibility, but also modestly decrease body fat, compared to a control group. Another study produced results of a 90-minute Bikram yoga class averaging a calorie burn for men of 460 and women 330 in those 90 minutes. Not to shabby for 90 minutes of workout!


2. Power Yoga

power yoga for weight loss

Power yoga is mostly practiced at gyms and is a form of yoga that places particular emphasis on an intense workout with poses that vary from session to session. This style is well-known and practiced for it's ability to accumulate into a whole-body workout, with aims towards flexibility, toning, strength building and functional movements. 

Due to the intensity of the style, it can equate to a efficient cardio workout, helping to burn those unwanted calories, while also improving strength and power. Let's also not forget about the power of linking our breath and movement, which in turn helps to develop a better sense of awareness. This can relate to weight loss by the shear fact we have better control of ourselves to make smarter and healthier decisions when it comes our urges, desires and food choices. 


3. Ashtanga Yoga

ashtanga yoga for weight loss

Ashtanga yoga is an extremely strenuous form that may be a little aggressive for most beginners. A significant aspect of this particular type of yoga is that it uses a specific set of poses in a very specific order, meaning these classes are highly structured. In order to move onto "the next pose" in the Ashtanga sequence, the practitioner must first master the pose prior. 

The reason for this is that each pose in the sequence is slightly more difficult then subsequent poses, it's kind of like building a foundation to help you be more stabile and successful on your next asana. The importance of pranayama and your movements coordinating with one another is essential to thrive within this path of yoga. 

Like the above mentioned Power Yoga experience, Ashtanga yoga also offers similar strength-training and muscle building asanas, but can also be very spirited and work on both our mental and emotional selves. 

If you want to read a little more on the history of Ashtanga, your can read about it here!

Final Thoughts!

Leveraging the fast-paced pose transitions provided with Vinyasa yoga and incorporating quality aerobic activities into your everyday life gives you the best chance at accomplishing your weight loss goals.

If you have struggled with weight loss and find it hard to remain consistent and permanently shed pounds, using yoga for weight loss can help. Yoga is a powerful asset in a holistic weight loss plan. Combined with dedication and hard work, you will see results that may have been elusive in the past.    

We wish you the best on your weight loss journey and hope you can find some guidance with this information. As always be sure to seek expert advice if you have never participated in yoga. We always recommend to attend yoga classes prior to doing maneuvers and poses on your own.

Please share our posts on your social media and comment and let us know your progress in your yoga weight loss journey!










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